Former educators speak at brief Richfield meeting

Published 9:19 am Tuesday, December 20, 2022

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The regular meeting of the Richfield Town Council on Monday was an abbreviated version, featuring only two major matters — the swearing in of new mayor Ian Focht and council members Kevin Almond, Cynthia Heglar and David Harding, and public comments.

Stanly County Clerk of Court Ginger Efird swears in Kevin Almond, David Harding and Cynthia Heglar Richfield Town Council members. (Photo by TOBY THORPE)

Outgoing mayor Terry Deese was recognized with a plaque commemorating his service, after which he offered congratulations and encouragement to the incoming mayor and council members.

Outgoing Mayor Terry Deese was recognized for his years of service to the town. (Photo by TOBY THORPE)

“You will find this to be a challenge,” said Deese, “but you will be working for a great town. Good luck and congratulations to each of you.”

Upon assuming the gavel as mayor, Focht opened the public comment session with a stern admonition that order be maintained.

“There will be no outbursts tonight,” said Focht, likely in reference to the November meeting during which emotions ran high, resulting in the removal of one person.

Stanly County Clerk of Court Ginger Efird swears in Ian Focht, joined by his family, as Richfield mayor. (Photo by TOBY THORPE)

Only two citizens, both retired educators, spoke during the public comment time.

Gary Weart spoke briefly, offering, “I’d like to see our community be an ‘and’ community; Richfield should be an inclusive town, not an exclusive one.”

Former Richfield mayor Jim Misenheimer spoke next, first offering congratulations to the newcomers on the board before admonishing the group for changing the meeting agenda with little notice.

“I came by last week to see if tonight’s meeting would go on as planned,” said Misenheimer, “and then I got here tonight and somebody had decided there would be no (business) meeting.”

“This needs to be announced in advance,” he added, before moving onto the subject of Tyson Family Park, which had sparked heated debate during the board’s November meeting.

Misenheimer stated that the town’s refusal to accept third-party development of the park facility, which had been offered to the town at no cost, was creating a disadvantageous situation for youngsters whose families do not have the financial means to participate in activities and leagues at the town’s existing park.

“It costs a youngster $75 to play in the sports leagues here (at the existing Richfield Park),” he said. “What about those who don’t have that money?”

He noted that one of the stipulations in developing the Tyson Park would be that youngsters would not be charged to participate in activities there.

Safety poses an additional concern, said Misenheimer.

“Do you want your youngster riding a bicycle to the existing park down (NC Highway) 49?” he asked, noting that plans for the highway to be widened to four lanes in the near future would eventually make the crossing even more dangerous.

“We need to serve the kids who are currently being left out,” he said.

The meeting was adjourned immediately following the public comment time.

The council’s next meeting is set for Jan, 23 at Richfield Town Hall.